President Museveni meets UN Leaders, discuss security, UN Base

Sunday, February 10, 2019

ADDIS ABABA. President Museveni has today (Sunday) met top United Nations Chiefs, discussing with them a range of issues on regional security, human rights and the fate of the UN base in Entebbe.

The meeting with the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi and Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, happened on the side-lines of the on-going 32nd Ordinary Summit of the African Union Heads of State in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Briefing the President about the different peace efforts of UN missions across Africa, Mr Guterres indicated that he was committed to mobilising resources to support the missions and, where possible, strengthen their mandates from peacekeeping to enforcement.

About the UN base in Entebbe, Mr Guterres said whatever the reforms to be undertaken, all effort will be made to ensure the base stays robust especially as the key server of UN operations in the DR Congo.

“I have been saying to my colleagues that whatever the decision, I want as many activities to stay in Entebbe. We must also bring new activities to keep the base robust,” he said, adding that he was waiting for a new report from UN consultants before a decision is made.

A previous report by consultants, engaged by the UN in a bid to reorganise the global agency’s activities, had proposed that the Entebbe UN base be scaled down and most activities shifted to Nairobi, Kenya. However, the UN General Assembly, which is the penultimate decision-making organ, rejected the proposals, sending back the consultants to the drawing board.

Commenting on regional security, President Museveni said it was imperative for African countries to build truly African armies with the right ideological grounding in order to avoid some of the on-going conflicts. 

“Some African countries inherited mercenary colonial armies and did not reform them. This is part of the problem,” he said, adding that the international community must also be responsive in situations of cross-border conflicts and threats, like the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) who threaten Uganda yet are situated in Eastern Congo.

About human rights, the President accepted a request by Ms Bachelet to have a discussion with the government on reviewing the mandate of the UN High Commission Office in Kampala, with a view of establishing a regional centre of excellence.

Kagame hands over to Al-Sisi

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, President Museveni joined the tens of African and other leaders at the opening ceremony of the 32nd AU Summit, whose highlight was the handover of the leadership by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda to Egyptian leader, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

President Al-Sisi, who will chair the AU for the rest of 2019, will be deputised by Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, Felix Tshisekeddi of the DR Congo and Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger. The AU leaders also have designated President Ramaphosa as the successor to Al-Sisi in 2020.

In his maiden speech, President Al-Sisi challenged African leaders to resolve most of their own challenges since they appreciate best the complexities involved, warning that external influence at times has only served to exacerbate the conflicts.

“Let us avoid the roots of conflict and dangers of regression. Let us harmonise on peace and security mechanisms. Terrorism remains a concern. We must identify the forces behind extremism and deal with them,” he said.

The Chairperson of the AU commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, gave a highlight on recent AU achievements citing free movement, free trade agreement ratification, progressive fight against terrorism, calling upon the occupational force to vacate Libya, AU contribution to UN interests, well mobilised elections in African countries that have recorded progressive support. ENDS